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date: 18 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In 1804, referring ‘The Recluse’, Wordsworth wrote, ‘To this work I mean to devote the Prime of my life and the chief force of my mind’ (EY 454). This essay focuses on Wordsworth’s vocation as a Philosopher Poet according to his understanding of philosophy, poetry and imagination. Wordsworth identified with Stoic thought and held to the classical belief that the chief aim and end of philosophy was to teach virtue. He also understood that the Philosopher Poet achieved this end by persuasive rather than logical means, utilizing an expressive eloquence to paint pictures in his reader’s minds according to the art of classical oratory or rhetoric. When he began work on ‘The Recluse’ in 1798 it was Cicero and Quintilian, not Coleridge that he was indebted to for both his appreciation of philosophy and the development of his poetic art. Wordsworth’s poetic imagination was more Roman than Romantic.

Keywords: Coleridge, Cicero, Quintilian, imagination, philosophy, oratory, rhetoric, virtue, Roman, Stoic

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